Between San Jose and Rowe, following the old alignment of Route 66 is pretty simple. The frontage road sticks right next to Interstate 25. All the while, though, I found myself staring up at dramatic Glorieta Mesa, and wondering if there was something up there worth seeing. So, when I came upon NM Rte. 34, I took it.
Route 34 winds its way past a few homes, then climbs up Rowe Hill to the top of Glorieta Mesa. The best part of this side trip turned out to be the view, just before I reached the top of the mesa. Down below, you can see the tiny town of Rowe, and in the distance, the mountains that rise up to the east of Santa Fe.
Beyond this point, the road flattened out, and turned to gravel. I drove another mile or two, but didn’t find anything interesting.
Back on old Route 66, you’ll drive past the crumbling E.T. Padilla Victory Bar, which probably hasn’t served a foaming pint in decades.
[tmt_info =””]For westbound travelers: at Rowe, Route 66 crosses underneath Interstate 40, then heads north as NM Rte. 63. Here, you will pass Pecos National Monument, then continue on to the town of Pecos. Remember to make a Left at the gas station in Pecos. If you don’t, then you’ll wander for miles into the mountains. It’s a beautiful drive, but once you finally figure out that you’re not on Route 66 anymore, you’ll have to backtrack. And yes, I’m speaking from experience.[/tmt_info]
About halfway between the towns of Pecos and Glorieta, you’ll see a boarded-up stone building, very close to the side of the road. This is the only structure remaining from the old Pigeon’s Ranch. Quite a bit of history happened here, including a pivotal battle in the Civil War in 1862 (about 1/2 mile away). The building itself served as a stage coach stop on the Santa Fe Trail, and later, a tourist attraction. Before the National Park Service boarded up the windows, you could peek inside and see writing on the walls that dated back to the stagecoach days.
Now, every entrance to the crumbling old building is sealed tight, keeping all that history out of view of passers by.
Directly across NM 50 is an old well. Back in the 1920’s, when Thomas Greer turned Pigeon’s Ranch into a tourist stop, Greer claimed that the well was the oldest in the United States — a claim that’s most likely untrue.
[tmt_info =””]At Glorieta, NM 63 (Route 66) runs into I-25, and you have no choice but to hop on the interstate. Since it was getting late, I chose to stick with the freeway for the remainder of the drive into Santa Fe. If you want to track down other remnants of the old road between here and there, consult a good guidebook.[/tmt_info]
Note: This trip was first published in 2008.